No, Really. This is about how the first car you have on the road will always be the best car in the world.
When my friend Aoife suggested doing an article on her Nissan Micra K12, I’ll be honest, I scoffed at the thought. It’s a Micra. I write about interesting cars that have stories to tell. Why the hell would I do a Nissan Micra? And not even a cool one like a K10, but a usually-driven-by-nuns K12?
And then roughly about ten minutes later, I thought to myself, “You idiot, this is exactly what you’re about”. This is her first car, and if there is any car that has stories to tell, it’s your first. It’s because of this, I woke up early to go and do a photoshoot… of a bloody Micra.
You see, for whatever reason, I was fortunate enough to be able to get insurance on what you see above at the lowly age of 18, and it was my first car. To start off in what is widely regarded as one of the greatest hot hatches of all time, well, it’s a bit like winning a trip to the chocolate factory and not watching your fellow winners suffer and just going straight to the free stuff.
Most people start with something small (and usually terrible), like a Micra, or – dare I say it – the dreaded Vauxhall Corsa. A fate worse than death. I never really experienced ownership of anything like this, so I was genuinely curious to see what it was like. I also hadn’t seen or spoken to Aoife since High School so I was curious to sternly judge and belittle her driving. Sadly it was rather good and I wasn’t able to.
So what is it? Well, it’s a Micra. 1.2, five speed. I’ll be honest, I can’t really comment on how it drove, or what it’s like. I got to move it to angle it for photos. That’s it. It seemed to drive okay though, and it’s nippy enough. I don’t really have much to say because it’s a Micra.
I love Nissans, but I just don’t quite grasp what they were thinking with this. But that’s not what I’m here to write about, because this is more than just a ‘car’. This is a first car, and you only get one shot at that. This is a car that has become her everything – a social hub, transportation to work, and everything in between. And that’s why cars are so important to teenage life.
As we get older, people seem to take automobiles for granted. At our age, insurance companies/police/essentially everyone wants to keep us off the road, from silly speed restrictions for new drivers (which barely any other countries have, by the way, and they do just fine) to absolutely extortionate insurance prices. By the time you’re in your mid twenties, driving is just something you have to do, and if you’re not a car enthusiast, something you probably don’t even enjoy doing.
And it’s quite sad I think, that people who don’t care about cars at all completely lose interest after a while and the novelty goes away, and it just becomes something you have to do. As a car enthusiast who is (usually) surrounded by other car enthusiasts, I see people who are passionate and enjoy driving all the time.
So I guess that’s one reason that I relish the pure enjoyment found from young drivers who just enjoy the freedom of being able to go out, to explore, and just enjoy having newfound independence. People who have no real interest at all in cars, smiling and being happy that they can be in one and go where they wish and as they please.
And perhaps that’s what I got a sense of when I was asked to do an article about a lowly Nissan Micra – this isn’t someone with a flash Mercedes wanting to show it off to the world to give the impression they have all the money in the country – this is someone who just has a genuine love for their first car, and the fact that it’s theirs to explore in. And it was in the genuine love for the car, that I began to appreciate it that little bit more.
Just take a look at that dashboard. I get in the car, I see big open space with no real amenities. I see something designed to be functional and nothing more. What does Aoife see when she gets in the car? An Aux cord. The backbone of any teenager’s social hub. A big open space to set things from popular fast food chains when parked up and having fun with friends.
A Heater that works? Fantastic. Two dials that tell me how fast I’m going and when to change gear? Brilliant. Often you forget, that what seems spartan to those of us with bigger and fancier cars, is all that some people ever need. And perhaps we all need a bit more of that in our lives, as we complain that our touch screens aren’t sensitive enough or the Sat Nav hasn’t got the latest maps.
That’s what the title of this article is about. To me, an outsider, this is just another car. A (curvy) box with wheels designed to get from A to B. To her, this is the best car in the world, that allows her to go anywhere and do anything. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Nissan Almera, a Golf GTI or a Nissan Micra – your first car will always be your most important. And as we get older and driver bigger and fancier cars, never forget where you started out. Happy to have fuel, an aux cord, and best friends to share the new experiences with. Get that recipe right, and as far as you’re concerned at 17 or 18, it’s the best car in the world.
Thanks to Aoife for providing the car this morning.